Battle Bros: Season Three, Chapter I: The Battle Bros Holiday Special

Battle Bros is an ongoing bi-weekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) teaches his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 but somewhere along the line they lost that thread and this is what we ended up with instead. Catch up on their past adventures here.

Meet the Battle Bros


The older of the two brothers, but newer to the game. “Learned” to play Iron Hands and Bostonian Orks. 


The younger brother, more experienced in the world of Hams but probably worse.

DREW: No! No. This wasn’t in my contract. I am not lighting my groin on fire for less than a kiloclick. I will bite you.

CHRIS: Well, here we go again. Our Benevolent Masters in Goonhammer High Command have demanded a third season, regardless of the readership numbers, and we are bound to obey. Content for the Content Gods!

DREW: When you say “bound,” do you mean Dear Editor left a single bolter shell in your mailbox and a note that just said “WRITE”?

CHRIS: Look, I just want to see my family again, okay? After all, ‘tis the “holiday season,” dear brother. We’re here, gathered around the fire sipping mugs of hot egg nog and Malört, and there are two questions that need to be answered. First: which of us is Bea Arthur?

DREW: Honestly? Neither of us. If I had to cast you in the Holiday Special my first instinct is that you’re Chewie’s weird grand-dad that sits down to watch softcore VR porn in the living room while everybody else does all the work. I don’t remember any names from that show other than the horror show that was Lumpy, so I’m guessing his name was Pervy or Strokesy or something. However, I’ll fucking fight you for the right to be Harvey Korman riding the coke train full speed in drag through an otherwise dull cooking segment.

Bea Arthur and some aliens
Let’s face it, MAI WAIFE gets the Bea Arthur role anyway. Pretty sure this is a picture from one of our New Year’s parties. Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd., LLC.

CHRIS: Being “Old as Fuck” I actually watched the Holiday Special when it first aired. I was seven years old and remember very clearly how totally excited I was for it. I don’t think I even made it to the Grandpa Itchy VR porn scene before I told our parents “that’s okay, I don’t really want to watch this” and wandered sadly out of the room. Possibly the last good decision I made.

(Note: after writing this I decided to see what all the fuss was about and actually sat through the full Holiday Special for the first time in my life. Why did I do this to myself? Dear reader, I ask myself that question several times a day. You really have no idea how broken I am.)

But the second, and most important question: what did you get me?

DREW: I actually gave you your gift last month but you didn’t notice: the gift of freedom from having to buy a million Ork buggies on eBay. You’re welcome!

CHRIS: You say that, but you know damn well I spent hours hunting down buggies for pennies on the dollar after some chump got all pouty that he couldn’t field his nine Snazzwagons and five Dakkajets anymore. Also, please don’t look in my closet of shame.

DREW: You know, sometimes you just gotta let a sentence sit there and continue cooking. Come back to me when you’ve thought that one through.

Regardless, the holidays are kind of a special time, and not just because eating Chinese takeout and going to an empty movie theater is the best possible thing you can do in this or any other universe. I’m talking about a special time for Hams. After all, Season Two of this very column was born when I was gifted/burdened with a whole new army. Though, thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever given or received actual models for the holidays outside of a Discord group Secret Santa, only tools and accoutrements (excellent ones, might I add). Models themselves can definitely have both the “awkward for everyone” and the “confusing to relatives” aspects of gift-giving. I don’t know which scenario is worse – unwrapping a box of Daemonettes of Slaanesh in front of your grandmother, or unwrapping what you thought was that set and is actually Happy Scrappy Hero Pup Friendly Wargaming because Gam-Gam thought it was the same thing.

CHRIS: I make it a firm rule to never discuss any models, painting, or games with any upstream family members. No good can come of it. There would have to be too much explaining. I ain’t got time for that and Mom doesn’t really want to know why it’s so important that I get the Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy rather than the Boomdakka Snazzwagon. I got my fill of that back in the day when every damn time I’d come back from a D&D game at a friend’s house one of our parents would ask “did you win?” Yeah, literally the meme.

I think my wife has bought me exactly one model in the years I’ve been gaming (Orsus Zoktavir, The Butcher Unleashed). It was an awesome model and many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day, I can tell you. But this is a very niche nerd hobby, and you really can’t expect someone not elbow deep in it to know an Intercessor from an Incursor from an Infarction. Since I was about twelve I’ve never really felt great about making up a list of stuff I want people to get me for the holidays and saying “get me exactly this.” Feels dirty. I’d rather just buy what I want for myself and focus on the Reason for the Season: depression and day drinking.

Moxie + Malort = regret
Good news, we have both of those

With that frivolity out of the way, we have some good or perhaps terrible news for our reader(s), depending on your perspective. We’ve got an actual reason for being here – we’ve received a Challenge! Another pair of brothers approach to stomp us into a gooey pulp or meet defeat before our glorious tactical genius!

DREW: It’s good to know the column follows the Fast and Furious rules, where the bad guy of the franchise eventually joins forces with the good guy to fight the bigger badder guy, usually in the next goddamn movie. Though I’m not sure which of us is the good guy, so maybe this is a Hobbs and Shaw situation?

CHRIS: Sorry, did you not hear earlier when I said “old”? I’m going to need to ask you to rephrase that using something starring Walter Matthau or at the very least Richard Dreyfuss.

DREW: I would pay solid money to see either of those fight The Rock. Just sayin’.

This pair of challenger brothers, or perhaps Challenge Bros if you will, is a deep cut for me and also one of those small world situations. I met the man known as Dozer back in college roughly one thousand years ago. Long-time first-times may recall me talking about the fairly competitive nature of my hams youth, and Dozer was a chill dude in the sea of all that lower-case chaos.

CHRIS: I’d known Dozer in passing for a number of years from seeing him at TempleCon and CaptainCon back when I played Warmachine. Then one year we were chatting and said “let’s both bring our SPEED FREEKS sets and have a massive multiplayer race!” And we did, and it was glorious. That was where I met his brother Moonpig too. And yes, those are their Christian names.

So a couple months ago we were talking about events at the next CaptainCon (February 2022). I’ve always wanted to do a massive late night SPEED FREEKS or MOON RACE KLAISUS event that just runs around the entire perimeter of the ballroom and out into the halls, Formula 1 style. There’s one rukk (mission) in the game where the road/planet surface is collapsing behind you, so as someone moves off the front board you remove the back board and place it up front. Anybody who was still on that last board is d-e-d. We could keep that going as long as we wanted without needing a billion boards to all lay out – basically just keep on until there’s only one player left. It would be magnificently stupid.

But here’s where Dozer threw down the gauntlet, saying “what I’d like even more would be a Bros vs Bros battle.” And how could we resist that?

DREW: Very easily, that’s how. We’re not here to give the readers what they want! What they want is to come to this site for insightful reviews, list-building guidance, and protein ranking systems. Or maybe just so they can hate-comment on Facebook and Reddit. Either way they’re not here for two chucklefucks Statler and Waldorfing at each other with jokes that only the two of them get.

CHRIS: Aren’t they though? Aren’t they?

DREW: I think it’s well established that we have no idea what they’re here for. If they want incompetent bungling, Blunderdome is right there, doing it better/worse than we ever could.

CHRIS: Drew and I have been obsessing over this match (okay, I’ve been obsessing, he’s had to put up with it) for months now. What would the format be? How do 2v2 games work in 40k? Would we bring 2000 points each, 4k per side? What army is everyone bringing? How do we milk this for column content?

DREW: Don’t make me tap the sign.

Once again: you

Seriously, we don’t need to worry about 2v2 games; though the latest Crusade book involves rules for multiplayer games, a 4v4 is Easy Street, baby! Fun fact: when I initially wrote this, for some reason I conflated Easy Street with Baker Street, and now that sax solo is in your head too Dear Reader. You’re welcome.

CHRIS: Good to see I’m not the only Old here. You think anybody who knows how to type GOONHAMMER DOT COM into a browser without calling up their kid to say “my Google isn’t working” remembers the Gerry Rafferty classic “Baker Street”?

(The David Lee Roth cover of “Easy Street,” which I prefer to the Edgar Winter original, was featured in the 1986 John Cusack/Demi Moore/Bobcat Goldthwaite flick One Crazy Summer. Rent it at your neighborhood Blockbuster today!)

DREW: The rest of it works itself out pretty easily as well. Two thousand points gives us just enough points to play around a little per side, but not so much that we could build something competent. As for the mission, we can probably talk about that but unless something major changes I’m down with just random-rolling a mission.

CHRIS: I’ve always been more curious than is probably healthy about massive battle scenarios, like Apocalypse, so I’ll admit I was kind of hoping for 2000 per player. But Dozer and Moonpig probably have other things to do at some point in TYooL 2022 so 2000 per side is probably the wise move. I guess.

DREW: I don’t know how it is for you, but 4000 points per side would make my eyes glaze over after about fifteen minutes and I’d spend most of the opponents’ turn napping. Hell, that’s how I feel after about fifteen minutes of writing this crap.

CHRIS: Anyone who has read this far is likely on the verge of slipping into a coma, and that’s probably not a bad decision. I’m kind of jealous actually. But the good news is since we’re doing this thing at a game con, and Fridays are usually a little sparse there since most people haven’t arrived yet, we probably won’t have any trouble grabbing a table and terrain. But just in case, I’ll bring the perfect setup. The only box anyone would ever need. Product design so perfect it ignores the conventional wisdom (or “rules”) for both board size and amount of terrain. I speak of course of REALM OF BATTLE: MOON BASE KLAISUS!


DREW: Fuck! You even told me you needed something from the game store to paint the Klaisus boards and I didn’t even think of that applying here. Mostly because, as you say, it doesn’t fit at all. It’s a terrible idea! It’s exactly on brand for us!

CHRIS: Right? Ice Moon Bowling Ball! We’re gonna get shot off the goddamn table top of turn 1!

DREW: I’m going to do the unthinkable and admit that you’re probably more of an expert on this than I am. With that rancid statement out of the way, what makes Klaisus so horrible in terms of terrain? Couldn’t we just put whatever we wanted on it, or does that ruin the experience somehow?

CHRIS: I like to think there are a few things that I’m more of an expert than you on. Maybe one or two. Okay, so maybe it’s only Legion of Super-Heroes trivia, but I’ll defend that one to the death!

There are two things that make Klaisus terrible. The first is the board itself. It’s one of those sturdy cardstock boards like in all the Kill Team sets lately, and the designs on either side are “fine” – nothing really distracting. But the board measures 66” long by 40” wide. The box came out shortly after 8th edition dropped, and I’m no math-toucher but that seems smaller than the six foot by four foot standard size the game called for then. Was it a precursor to the 9th edition board size changes? No! It’s wrong for that too – too long one way, too short another. To the best of my knowledge there is no game produced by Games Workshop that uses a board that size.

{Another Note: while setting up for pictures I measured the actual board. 66″ x 44.75″. They couldn’t even get the product description right on this thing!)

But that’s okay I guess, short by 2” on each side isn’t too terrible. But no, what makes it even worse if the terrain. It’s good terrain, very solid ruined wall sections, some barricade type things. The problem is, more accurately, the complete lack of terrain. Look at that box pic up there. There are nine pieces, including a hatch that leads to a bunker where you have to type in the right numbers every 90 minutes and a weapons locker that not even a Grot could take cover behind. Four large-ish wall sections, three barricades. That’s it! This was pitched as a “battlefield in a box” but the contents were so sparse whoever wrote the copy for the product description felt they needed to mention that it came in a sturdy cardboard box that you could store things in.

In short it was incorrect and inadequate. You probably now see why it holds such a dear place in my heart.

DREW: I tuned out while Grampa made word salad, but it really does sound like a truly shitty idea that will make everyone miserable, especially to consider that we’d need two Klaisii to make it work in one of the dimensions and that still wouldn’t be the right size for the other dimension.

Cat and game setup on table
We honestly need him on the board or else there’s not enough terrain.

Usually I’m all for terrible decisions that bring misery and woe, but I’m pretty sure that if we tried this at least three of the four of us would end up beaten to death with a convention hall chair. I’m going to be the uncharacteristically reasonable one and say no to playing our final game on this.

Our practice game, however…

CHRIS: It’s adorable that you think practice will make us any more prepared for this game. Dozer and Moonpig are going to have to invent entirely new number systems to express how badly they destroy us. Or they’re just going to sit back in confusion as you and I attack each other on the top of turn 1. But sure, let’s figure out what we’re bringing and we can do a couple games to at least familiarize ourselves with the lists before February. That way there’s only about an 85% chance that we look like complete idiots.

DREW: Why don’t we figure that out next time? We’ve said a lot today about the holidays, our very dumb and bad ideas, and Diahan Carroll dressed in what appears to be a tinsel wig. Our Challenge Match isn’t till February, so we have a little while yet to practice being extremely terrible at this.

If we spend the next article deciding on what forces everyone involved will bring, that gives us just enough time for two practice games and a Challenge Day Eve post, then some wrap-up. Sure, it’s a short season, but that just means we squeeze in twice the incompetence. Think of it like a Winter session class, where you have to learn absolutely everything about Quantitative Analysis in a month.

CHRIS: Only one column to wemble over army and unit choices? You think that will be enough? How will I properly agonize over whether it’s better to take loadout A or B, both of which are mathematically indistinguishable to the fifth decimal? What if I choose an entirely new army, how will I have time to paint it? Will Drew have to tap the sign? Why do I insist on doing things that I don’t enjoy and am not good at? The answers to all these questions and more, dear reader, in two weeks!

Next Time: “Wemble”? Really?

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at